Spotlight on Top Surgeries for Transgender Patients

You might hear it called “top” surgery, “chest masculinization,” “chest reconstruction,” or “FTM or FTN surgery”, but either way, it’s a monumental deal. Sure, surgery itself is a major thing from a physiological point of view, but gender-affirming surgery, something that may help a person to live in a body with physical characteristics that are more in line with their internal sense of self and how they want to present to the world? Whoa.

Pre-surgery, manual lymphatic drainage massage (MLD) can help in a few ways:

  • It can mean you need less anaesthesia and that you may feel better upon coming out of that anaesthesia in the recovery room (less nausea, more ease in becoming lucid again)
  • It can make the tissue a bit easier for the surgeon to work with when it comes time to make incisions
  • MLD is wonderfully gentle and relaxing work and can help reduce pre-surgery anxiety

Massage can also be helpful for folks who bind so that tight muscles can find some ease before surgery.

Post-surgery, you may be dealing with:

  • swelling
  • pain
  • navigating and emptying surgical drains
  • wearing of compression vests or tank tops
  • scarring (including the “dog-ear” extra skin at the ends of the incisions) and pain or itching at the incision site
  • possible adhesions or “binding down” of the tissue onto the chest wall
  • decreased range of motion in the shoulder and chest
  • activity restrictions
  • the discomfort of sleeping in a reclined position with pillows or in a recliner chair for weeks following surgery

Specialized massage can help support your body as it recovers. Manual lymphatic drainage can help decrease swelling and pain. Scar rehabilitation techniques can aid in combatting adhesions, puckering, pulling, and discomfort. Gentle shoulder mobilization techniques can help restore range of motion and the ability to get back to activities of daily living a little sooner.

AND while this article spotlights top surgery, this work is certainly supportive for folks having bottom surgery and facial feminization surgery as well. MLD and scar work can be helpful for bottom-surgery graft donor sites and can help recovery feel a bit smoother, and MLD can be wonderful for facial swelling and discomfort after FFS procedures.

Our aim is to provide all of this within a space where you can feel seen and where you can truly exhale and be your authentic self. We explain what we’re doing beforehand and as we go, and consent is important to us.

If you have more questions, please contact us.